I’m never early. Consistently a little late, occasionally very late, but never early. My concept of time is damaged or nonexistent or unimportant; I can’t decide.
But today, I was acutely aware that I was running out of time. Wednesday is my Sunday, the final day free from the burden of employment to either relax or be productive. It’s November; the sun sets an hour sooner, and the leaves are falling too quickly, sometimes like paper rain when I open the door and step onto the porch. So, I left early. I thought I left twenty minutes early, but with the time change and my half-accomplished task of turning back some but not all of the clocks, I actually had eighty to spare. Better to be an hour early than an hour late, I suppose.
Autumn has been passing me by. I blame work and a full week succumbing to a virus, but regardless of the distractions, I was about to miss its final wave goodbye despite my daily resolutions to take my Pentax out to the park and photograph the fiery pallet reflected across Pine Lake before the trees shed their garments for a skeletal winter.
I put my car in park and stepped out to realize that, yet again, my timing was off. I won the race against the sunset, but the sun was in front of me, casting shadows on the trees instead of shining a spotlight on the vibrant yellows, burnt oranges, and deep blushing reds. I may have been early, but I wasn’t early enough.
I meandered to the lake’s edge, camera in hand, crisp wind steadily numbing my nose and fingering my woolen poncho. I breathed warmth into my cupped hands and stood on the bank. Gentle waves lapped a few feet below. I lifted one hand to shield the sun from my eyes. The panorama I was looking for was dark and dismal in the shadows of the dying day, the color bled dry to its lowest saturation before evening stole the last remnants. Somehow, I was still too late.
I started to turn back to the car, but I stopped short. Right in front of me, sunlight streamed through the golden leaves of a shrub clinging to the edge of the bank, veins a deep gold, papery flesh glowing yellow, the water a shimmering backdrop reflecting afternoon light. I stared at it, surprised by its radiance when the trees across the lake were so dull. I lifted my camera.
Sometimes, while seeking the panoramas, we forget to use the macro lens and photograph the little things right in front of us.